Sarah Sprague describes the Wait It Out method on her blog Nurshable: Joy in Gentle Parenting. In essence, it is a way of waiting for this short stage to pass while staying responsive to the baby’s needs, rather than trying to train or alter the child’s natural patterns. Through this method, the baby will learn that sleep is “Safe, comfortable, and lovely.”
This method rests on six core beliefs:
“1- Independent sleep is developmental not behavioral.
2- Needing comfort and closeness is an instinct not a preference.
3- Cries are communication not manipulation.
4- Babies can slowly and gently learn to be comfortable with independent sleep as they are developmentally ready.
5- The path each baby will take to independent sleep is unique.
6- The progression to independent sleep does not always feel like forward momentum.”
Explaining the Wait It Out method, Sarah writes, in a letter to her daughter:
“I am grown. I am strong. I understand the passage of time and that THIS will pass. You will sleep. Your infancy is the briefest part of the brief time that you are a child in need of my arms.
I can wait it out so that you don’t have to cry it out.” Read more here.
Each parent needs to develop a ‘toolkit’ of things which work for you and for your particular child.
Sarah describes her own ‘toolkit’ as follows. This is a brief summary. Please have a look at the page itself to read more detail.
EXPECTATIONS: Making sure our expectations of baby sleep are realistic. Accepting that the first two years of life bring a lot of changes, and that sleep disruptions are part of a baby’s natural development.
UNDERSTANDING REGRESSION: Understanding that sleep patterns may alter due to factors beyond our control, such as teething or growth spurts.
OBSERVATION: Observing each child as an individual, who will respond differently to different things. Tuning in to the baby and paying attention to how this baby responds.
SOOTHING TECHNIQUES: Learning different ways to soothe your baby, and observing which of these are better received, in different situations.
DAYTIME CROSSTRAINING: The baby learns that the places she sleeps are also places she can be happily awake. She learns that her parents respond to her straight away, with a smile, when she cries or needs help. The parent talks to the baby and carries her, so the baby feels secure and connected. The parent learns more about the baby through daytime observation.
COPING TECHNIQUES: Finding your own ways to cope. Finding the nutrition, hydration, behaviour, sleeping arrangements that work for you and help you feel less tired.
This is a short summary. Please look at her site to read more detail about the toolkit, and the method. Each parent needs to develop their own toolkit, and Sarah asks us to get in touch to share ideas. You can find more ideas and information on her blog site.
Parent reviews: One parent told us, “I like the way this method has a name and a community. There are some really good Facebook groups with support from other parents who are also waiting it out, including people posting their success stories which gives me hope! It makes me feel like I’m taking control of the situation. It’s not just ‘put up and shut up’, it’s about making sure I’m responding to what he needs.”
Acknowledgement: We thank Sarah Sprague for her generous time in helping us make sure this page is an accurate representation of her work. We hope you will find it helpful, and hope it will help to introduce more readers to her.